The Art Office: Corporate Art Collections

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What is your first thought when you think about going to the bank? Or a big company office? I am sure that it is not connected to art at all. You imagine calls, queues, paperwork… But did you know that some banking companies have amazing art collections? They really could become museum competitors someday!

Let us open the door to the corporate art collections for you!

Christo, The Gates, Project for Central Park,Deutsche Bank Art Collection
Christo, The Gates, Project for Central Park, 2003, Deutsche Bank New York Office, New York, USA. Deutsche Bank Art Collection.

Why do corporations need art?

Maybe, for some companies, a corporate art collection is just nice office decoration. And, of course, let’s not forget that art is a great investment, both money and prestige wise. But the motto of the most corporate art collections’ is: we do it for the people. In respect of employees – to let them work in an artistic atmosphere which, thanks to that, will stimulate them to produce even greater results. For clients – to win their loyalty. And for young artists? Well, corporate art collections mostly consist of contemporary art. And for everyone else? Most companies organize exhibitions and lend their art to museums all around the world.

The largest corporate art collections

Deutsche Bank

Artists: Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, Francis Bacon and more.

Since 1979, Deutsche Bank has been regularly replenishing its corporate collection under the slogan “Art Works”. The company owns more than 57,000 objects, about 90 percent of them by aspiring young authors. The average price varies in the range of € 1,500-2,500.

Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting (Faust), Deutsche Bank Art Collection.
Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting (Faust), 1981, Deutsche Bank New York office, New York, USA. Deutsche Bank Art Collection.

Until 2019, Gerhard Richter’s colossal Abstract Painting (Faust) greeted visitors to the Wall Street office of Deutsche Bank; it could also be seen from the street through tinted glass. But, sadly, it was removed in 2019 and said to have been replaced by a newer artwork.

Every floor of Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in New York features a variety of art. One floor is dedicated to photographs; another is decorated with graphic works by sculptors, and a third is all about the sculptures. The exhibition on the ground floor is available not only to employees, but also to bank customers.

UBS Group AG

Artists: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Lucian Freud, Roy Lichtenstein and more.

Lucian Freud, Self-Portrait, 1974, UBS Art Collection
Lucian Freud, Self-Portrait, 1974, UBS Art Collection. UBS.

UBS bankers already have 35 thousand works of modern and contemporary art at their disposal. When buying, preference is given to relatively little-known young artists as their noble philosophy is to support living artists at the start of their career. In addition, the collection is constantly expanding through the purchase of works of artists from those countries where the bank’s holdings are represented.

Roy Lichtenstein, Post Visual, 1993, UBS Art Collection.
Roy Lichtenstein, Post Visual, 1993, UBS Art Collection. Favart.

The bank leases and donates selected works from its collection to such well-known museums as MoMA and has a UBS Art Gallery in New York. UBS is also an official sponsor of Art Basel. But most of the collection decorates the bank’s worldwide branches and is available only to its employees. Lucky them!

UniCredit group

Artists: Tintoretto, Gustav Klimt, Giorgio de Chirico, Diane Arbus, Karen Knorr and more.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Girl with a dog,
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Girl with a dog, 1770-1775, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany. UniCredit Art Collection.Wikimedia Commons.

The first bank of the UniCredit group appeared in 1473. Therefore, the collection also has a long history. This corporate art collection contains more than 60,000 pieces, including items found during excavations.

Karen Knorr, High Art Life After the Deluge
Karen Knorr, High Art Life After the Deluge, from the series Academies, 1994 – 2005, UniCredit Art Collection. Artist’s website.

The collection combines tradition and innovation; it contains not only outstanding works of art, tested by time, but also contemporary experimental work.

UniCredit often organizes exhibitions and has presented its collection in Italy and other European countries. In 2019 UniCredit announced that it was to sell some pieces of the collection to help fund European social initiatives.

JPMorgan Chase

Artists: Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Mitchell, Roy Lichtenstein and more.

It all started with the Rockefellers. In 1959, David Rockefeller, a famous American banker, created a first-ever art purchasing program called Art at Work at the Chase Manhattan Bank. As a result, he is seen as the founding father of corporate collections: even art critics turned to him for advice. Today the company has merged with JPMorgan Chase holding and it’s art comprises a total of six corporate art collections. You can see contemporary art works in 450 of their offices around the world.

Romare Bearden, Interior with Profiles, 1969, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection
Romare Bearden, Interior with Profiles, 1969, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection. JPMorganChase.
Charles Marion Russell, Indian Maid at the Stockade, 1892, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection
Charles Marion Russell, Indian Maid at the Stockade, 1892, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection. Fine Art America.

Microsoft Corporation

Artists: Takashi Murakami, Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close and more.

A group of Microsoft employees began collecting art in 1987. Now this corporate collection comprises almost 5,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass works and multimedia. These works have been distributed in 180 offices of the company around the world.

Devorah Sperber, Spock, Kirk and McCoy: Beaming-In, 2008, Microsoft Headquarters
Devorah Sperber, Spock, Kirk and McCoy: Beaming-In, 2008, Microsoft Headquarters, Redmond, Washington. Microsoft Art Collection. Artist’s website.

Many artworks in Microsoft art collection look super-technological (no surprise there!) and feature pixels. In the painting below, Gordon Cheung, a young artist from London, turns to Dutch still life paintings combining history and the latest perks of civilization.

Gordon Cheung, E J Eelkema II, 2015, Microsoft Art Collection.
Gordon Cheung, E J Eelkema II, 2015, Microsoft Art Collection. Microsoft Art Collection/Instagram.

According to the company website, Microsoft believes that displaying art in the workplace creates an inspiring work environment. And we could not agree more! Maybe after reading this article we should all pitch this idea to our current bosses.


Admire contemporary art some moretake two fun quizzes about the contemporary artists present in the corporate art collections!

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The Art Office: Corporate Art Collections was first posted on November 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm.
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